Updated: The XioSynth is, in fact, 8-voice polyphonic, says Rob Jones from Novation’s UK headquarters. Rob explains why we got the message that it was monophonic: “It’s monotimbral (i.e., one program at a time), but each patch has 8-note polyphony.” There you have it. Also, check out comments for plenty of discussion as people ponder what gear to buy.

Novation has additional details for us on their new XioSynth, as profiled yesterday:

Synth engine: Virtual analog subtractive synth. Novation says it is “essentially a new engine,” but related to the KS-Series and X-Station synths. Those synths are terrific-sounding and a lot of fun to use, so that’s a good thing, though we’ll have to wait until this ships to find out what’s different on the Xio.

Aftertouch: Channel aftertouch is not available on the keyboard, but is assignable to the X/Y trackpad (which you might prefer, anyway). I suspected that, as Novation left aftertouch off of the LE series, as well. If you’re into aftertouch, you should consider the X-Station or ReMOTE SL.

Shipping: Late July / Early August availability, as the units are “starting shipping this month.”

Also, Tom at Music thing reports that that step sequencer should eventually sequence more than just gate: “we are already in discussion about other uses (e.g. modulating the filter) so it will be expanded in an OS update in the near future.” Timbral effects as well as rhythmic? Sign me up. Novation tends to deliver lots of new features in their OS updates, so expect them to make good on this promise. (Tom, I also like the idea of “deckchair tweaking.”)

The XioSynth really can’t take my mind off the ReMOTE SL I just got in, as I do enjoy the extra controls, keyboard aftertouch, and more software controller features; I’ve got plenty of Virtual Analog synths to play with. (And the SL comes with Novation’s superb BassStation, to boot.) But the XioSynth should round out Novation’s increasingly-terrific product line quite nicely. There are other budget synths, but few that emphasize the controller/synth hybrid, and certainly not at this low price point. Throw in Novation’s outstanding templates and editing, and this might be a winner for people who want their compact synth to be a great controller, too.

  • Tom

    UK press for Novation says it's 8 voice polyphonic – pretty amazing for £229, but I have zero lust for this box, and I'm not sure why.

  • Mies van der Robot

    For those who do find themselves torn between this and something like the Remote SL, it's worth noting that AudioDamage's BigSeq effect plug-in provides step-sequenced gate AND filter modulation in AU and VST formats, today!

    Unless you're determined to have this feature in your hardware synth/controller, for $39 you can have it as a plug-in that works on everything you feed it, and choose a controller without being hamstrung by a wish to have this feature.

  • Adrian Anders

    Well, it will be cheaper than a MicroKorg. So it will be a pretty good deal for a standalone synth that you can take on stage, not even counting the controller bit. I'm starting to warm up to this product the more I read about it (still wish there was VSTi integration tho).


  • Well, that's bizarre. I'll reconfirm with UK press. Supposedly my question to US press got redirected to Novation in UK.

    Of course, if you put together eight monophonic voices, you have eight voice polyphony, so maybe that's what they mean? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    As for this vs. the MicroKorg, for me, it comes down to this: if you want a hardware synth primarily, I'd get the MicroKorg (and perhaps look at the microX, Alesis Photon, and Roland SH-201, all of which have their strong points). If you want something to double as a controller, this is a stronger option. The MicroKorg integrates nicely with Reason so could tip the scales for Reason users, but this has full-sized keys, better onboard template management, and is both cheaper and more compact.

    I'm still sticking by my SL, though, as I'm having more fun with it as a controller than any other keyboard I've used. Mies is right; arpeggiator/step sequencers are available in software and give you more flexibility. I just tried out BigSeq with the SL's Automap in Ableton Live and it works perfectly. I may have to get a second, 61-key ReMOTE SL, or the 61-key X-Station. (The 37-key one is what they sent, and it happens to fit nicely by my computer display.)

  • Mark Strauss

    Peter, what do you say sometime in the near future you put together a mini-synth shootout (w/ sound samples) between this, the MicroKorg, SH-201, Photon, and microX? I am definitely going to be in the market for one of these in the near future, and I just can't see Guitar Center having all of them in one place for me to compare.

    *that* would be a great thing.

  • velocipede

    Rather than the Photon, did you mean the Micron? I now own a Micron and an X-Station. The X-Station is a much better midi controller and has a better keyboard (smoove keys with aftertouch), but my ignorant ears tell me that the Micron is a richer-sounding synth. I love them both, though, and if the Xio is similar to the KS synth, at that price, it will be a great joy for many. Battery power is really nice for those odd times when you don't want to worry about cords. If the Xio can manage chords too, all the better.

  • My biggest question is, is the audio from the synth engine transferrable via the USB connection?

    My frustration with the compact controller market is sort of two fold. On one side you have these new synths with USB MIDI, and the audio is not transferrable from the synth engine or on the other you have a MIDI controller that lacks sliders. Or a combination of both.

    I really don't understand why Novation dropped the Remote in favor of the XStation. I plan on buying one used because as far as I can tell thats the only controller in that format that will give me that many controls.

  • Velocipede, I did mean Micron, not Photon; thanks! (Though I do look forward to the Alesis Neutrino and Alesis Unidentified Sub-Atomic Particle.)

    Mark: I love the idea of a shootout. They're different enough, too, that it's more likely that you'll get one you like best than one that beats out the others, but in a way that makes for a more interesting story.

    Metro:Sonus, I tested a Novation X-Station for a while, and it absolutely transferred audio and control data simultaneously over the USB connection, all-digital … I didn't once hook up an audio cable to the thing. I'm sure this keyboard will work the same way, so unless I misunderstand what you're asking, this should give you what you want.

    And Novation is not dropping the ReMOTE. You can still pick up the original ReMOTE, as far as I can tell, and the new ReMOTE SL is a worthy replacement. The SL a similar control layout to the original, with the addition of drum pad-style triggers, more buttons, and new, wider LED displays. Automap isn't quite perfect (the automatic controller assignment technology), but it's there if you want it, and if you don't you can use the template editor as on the previous Novation keyboards. I'm all for the synth shootout, but my controller shootout would be no contest — the Novation is the priciest controller, but it's also the best.

  • I'm glad to hear the Remote isn't being discontinued..

    How is the audio delivered to the sequencer then? Through a line in?

    I agree, they are more expensive, but they have the features I need. I work from my laptop, and I need something that fully featured (as the Remote or XStation) to control my soft synths with as well MIDI Quest, for my small rack of synths I have below my desk.

  • velocipede

    The X-Station shows up as an attached audio device, just like any other a/d interface. If you attach something to the two inputs on the X-Station those also get routed to the same stereo destination (which can be split into two mono). However, you cannot have more than 2 audio channels at once through the XS, so if you are recording a mic and a guitar through it, you cannot simultaneously record the built-in synth. Curious about the Xio in this regard.

  • cobalt

    The Xiosynth could be a good companion to the ZeRO SL. Although the ReMote series is great, they are a little chunky for easy transportation.

  • It would have been nice if they had implemented channel aftertouch on the trackpad in the Z direction … Move around in X/Y, press down to get aftertouch.

    Mmmm … Add a single velocity sensitive trigger to the trackpad as well, and we'we got ourselves one hell of an expressive drumpad!

    Oh well, one can dream ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Eugene

    I wanted to know if anyone had an view on the xstation vs the xiosynth

  • So, what about the lack of a PROPER MIDI IN?? Not everyone uses a computer for production!! I find this a glaring oversight!! I wonder if i can use my USB/MIDI cable. I'm all hardware, as i HATE using computers for production. If i can't plug this into a MIDI chain properly, it's basically useless for me. Which sucks, cause this looks like a really fun little synth.

  • Ann

    I second wanting that MIDI In! A pretty nice synth paired with a lackluster controller (with no aftertouch!) should leave the options to using a better one…

  • Adam J

    Lack of MIDI in is the only reason I haven't already bought this. Looks like I'm going to have to spend more for an x-station. The better keyboard will be nice too, but I was excited about x-gator updates… ๐Ÿ™

    You also haven't drawn attention to the thing that really makes the novation synths more versatile than everything else-

    Battery power + proper keys

  • Buddy

    Can you configure the xy touch pad to send a midi note, to trigger a drum hit?

  • subterrene

    I just ordered a 49-key Xio, though at first I too was put off by the lack of a MIDI in. But if you look at the reviews and the product documentation, the sequencer "automatically syncs to an external clock", which implies that it's receiving MIDI data thru USB. What'll be interesting to discover will be whether it can also be externally sequenced through USB, or if that's even necessary with the built-in sequencer being there.

    Of course if you don't use a computer as part of your setup that wouldn't help you. I'm looking forward to firing it up though!

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